Doug Kimmelman (left) poses with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass during the groundbreaking of Lulu’s Place (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

A state-of-the-art sports facility broke ground on May 8 that aspires to provide more athletic access to underserved communities. The facility will be called Lulu’s Place, located near LAX and Saint Bernard high school.

“When I think about L.A., all our young people deserve access to enriching sports programs and educational opportunities,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. “The city is very proud to be a partner in supporting the development of Lulu’s Place, bringing new life into this site that will serve our local communities.”

Investment banker Doug Kimmelman spearheaded the effort, naming the facility after his late wife Carol “Lulu” Kimmelman. Lulu was a member of the USC Women of Troy tennis team that won the 1983 National Championship. She then became a third-grade teacher at Raymond Avenue Elementary School in South Los Angeles. Her family wanted to celebrate her fervor for helping underserved communities.

“Her passion was Los Angeles, that’s where she was from, went to school in Riverside Poly,” Kimmelman said. “She loved L.A., she loved those kids and those kids, they were underserved … and she loved leading a healthy, active lifestyle.”

Related Stories

Dodgers Blue Diamond Gala Leaves a Legacy on Los Angeles

New-Look Sparks Aim to Lead as a Team

Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell went to Riverside Poly high school with Carol “Lulu” Kimmelman (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Lulu’s place will house several athletic facilities, including 24 tennis courts, one full-sized soccer field, four basketball courts, one sand volleyball court, and a wellness and fitness zone.

The groundbreaking was a long time coming; the Kimmelman family had been working for seven years to find the land and means to create Lulu’s Place. Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell had a special connection with the project as she was classmates with Lulu at Riverside Poly.

“This was to honor his bride … [Kimmelman] has combined her passions: tennis, education and making sure kids who don’t typically have access have access,” Mitchell said. “That’s why the location was key, the partnerships are key.”

Private donors raised $150 million for the center that will provide athletic and academic enrichment to students throughout the Los Angeles area. The Kimmelman family worked with LAUSD to get a gauge of the support services that students in the area need.

LAWA commissioner Karim Webb speaks at the Lulu’s Place groundbreaking (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

St. Bernards will house the TGR Learning Lab which will use education to empower youth to follow their dreams and provide professional development to educators. After visiting the campus, Kimmelman donated $5 million to Westchester High School to renovate their softball and baseball field.

“We are so excited students, particularly our student athletes to be able to come to a facility like this where they can engage academically and athletically,” said Westchester principal Terri Grinner. “We’re so thankful we got a $5 million donation from [Kimmelman] and his family and Lulu’s place.”

Los Angeles County, LAUSD, and LAWA worked to bring Lulu’s Place to fruition. Organizations that donated include USTA, the TGR Foundation, the Walt Disney Company, Cedars-Sinai, and Jersey Mike’s.